Seeking a Spiritual Community
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Seeking a Spiritual Community
My husband and I come from differing religious backgrounds and are looking
for a place we can come together spiritually as a family, so that we can raise our
daughter within some sort of a relaxed and unifying spiritual framework. I'm not
sure what that would look like exactly, but would hope it to have a strong and
supportive community, a focus on inclusion and unity, as well as provide a place
to reflect and learn. We would love any input, ideas or suggestions from people
who have been down this challenging road.
Try Unity -- in particular, the Unity of Berkeley
(but if there is a Unity church
closer to where you live, give that a try). Unity is a spiritual home for all beliefs.
It focusses on the power of prayer/meditation. The Berkeley Unity church is
eclectic and lively. There is a children's program, too. You can look at their
website: unityberkeley.org. They are located at Arch and Scenic. I just started
going there in late November and I really like it, and I haven't been a regular
church-goer, ever, until now (I'm in my late 50s).
Unitarian Universalism: I love UUCB, and my 5 yr old
daughter and I attend most every Sunday as we have since she
was two. For us it's a great supportive community where I
don't have to check my brain at the door. I can bring it
right on in with the rest of me and enjoy conversations with
people from all sorts of religious traditions, including
followers of Christ's teachings, Jews, and devout atheists.
It's not a complete free for all- it's never OK to hurt
anyone. There's a quiz at beliefnet.org that's helpful, but
here are the basic beliefs:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist
Association, covenant to affirm and promote
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual
growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic
process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which
we are a part.
If you're interested in coming, send me an email- I'd be
glad to accompany you.
I am at a point in my life where I think I need to get more in touch with my
spiritual side. I'd also like to introduce my young children to the cultural
traditions of Sundays at church and fellowship.
From what I've read, including the archives here, it seems the Unitarian church
is probably the best fit for me philosophically. However, I am really bothered
by a lot of organized religion, particularly when churches get involved in
politics. I wonder if in the liberal Bay Area there is a truly neutral
congregation, or at least one that leaves politics completely out of worship.
(And I mean all politics, inlcuding left-leaning politics.)
I live in Berkeley but am willing to drive to other communities to find this,
if it exists.
I attend Church Without Walls
(www.nowalls.org) and it may be a
good fit for what you are looking for. We are a smallish church
in West Berkeley, focused on loving God and our neighbors (locally
and globally). Although I would say that folks in our church
generally believe that politics are important to us, it is not
part of what we do as a church on Sundays. I know that there are
a variety of political viewpoints held by various members and that
it is our faith that brings us together as a church--not our
politics. We meet at the West Berkeley Senior Center on 6th and
Hearst at 5pm on Sundays. You'd be welcome to come check it out.
You might like to look in to the Baha'i Faith.
Baha'is believe in
the common foundation of all religions, and don't participate in
partisan politics. We have a nice community here in Berkeley. You
can read more at www.bahai.org. There's a link for local contact
I've recently experienced a radical change in my life and it has made me realize
how much I could use a spiritual community and some more enlightened practices.
I'm curious about buddhism and other meditative practices as well as a strong
community, intellectual discussion and/or volunteerism. I am definitely NOT
looking for a typical western ''one-god'' based practice.
Anything come to mind? Something near Oakland is preferred.
Sounds like you are looking for the First Unitarian Church of Oakland!
14th & Castro, downtown. www.uuoakland.org
I also was a longtime atheist and joined an Episcopal church
ago. However, if you don't want a ''one-God'' practice, you could try
the Unitarian Church. There's one in Oakland and their website is
www.uuoakland.org For Buddhist meditation, there's the Berkeley
Buddhist Monastery and the Nyingma Institute, also in Berkeley. If
you're willing to try Christian meditation, I'd recommend a taize
service which is a beautiful candlelit program of chant. The best-known
is on the first Friday of the month at Mercy Center in Burlingame. I
think there may also be one in Berkeley at one of the seminaries. Good
As an agnostic I too seek spirituality removed from theism and have
found a very accepting and stimulating community in the Unitarian
Universalist movement (NOT the same thing as Unitarian Christians).
This community doesn't have any specific creed or writtings- meaning
some people believe in god and some don't- and ideas from every text
from the bible and quaran to contemporary fiction and poetry are all
treated as good starting points for contemplation. The members come
from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds. Everyone is
just trying to be their best self and have repect for the world and it's
inhabitants. Here's a Wikipedia article on the movement and a link to a
list of local UU Groups (I go to the ''Church'' in Berkeley):
There are lots of options, Buddhist-wise, in the bay area I recommend
picking up a copy of Inquiring Mind for listings of sitting groups
http://www.inquiringmind.com/ - and do go to as many dharma centers and
sitting groups as you can to find the best fit for you. I' like going to
the first Tuesday of every month at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery when
the monastics from Abhayagiri come down from Ukiah. On the other end of
the spectrum, Orgyen Dorje Den is a GREAT Tibetan temple in Alameda (the
Nyingma tradition) - it's the most beautiful I've seen locally - and
they have a pretty active Sangha. Tibetan Buddhism is very catholic and
mystical, so you might want something a little more straightforward.
I've heard good things about Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley, I don't
know anything about Berkeley Zen Center. I really like going to Ed
Brown's one day sits at Green Gulch, he's my favorite Zen teacher. Try a
bunch of different styles - the Buddhist magazines are a good resou!
rce - the key is finding a teacher and a tradition that speaks to you.
I would recommend you visit the
First Unitarian Church of Oakland. You
can find out more about them at www.uuoakland.org. You can learn more
about Unitarian Univeraslism at www.uua.org
First Unitarian Church of Oakland, corner of 14th and Castro, next to
the freeway in downtown Oakland. I've been going for nearly 20 years
now, and every time I miss a few weeks it feels like home when I return.
We are atheists, Jews, pagans, ex-Catholics, ex-Protestants - you name
it, you'll find it here. One caveat - you probably have to attend AT
LEAST 3 times to get a real feel for it, as the services (speakers,
music - choir, rock 'n roll band, bluegrass, piano, handbells, etc.) are
VERY different each week. Sometimes it's meditative, sometimes it's
rollicking! At the moment this is even more true than usual, as our
minister is on sabbatical til fall, and we have lay speakers and guest
ministers cycling through - but we've been through this before, and we
actually enjoy it! It's a fairly large congregation, with 2 services
and a short intergenerational service between the two, so the best way
to find that community you're looking for would be to take an adult class, join a musical group, one of the committees (earth justice, etc.),
and/or a covenant group - small affinity groups. Please come!
Buddhist meditation changed my life-it's so very intelligent, and based
completely on ones experience, no dogma. Try the East Bay Meditation
Center, which is in Berkeley.
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